Young Adult Fiction

**I realize this particular topic has little to do with the program itself, it is something that sparks my interest**

I’ve always had a love hate relationship with the novel genre considered “YA” or “Young Adult.” It seems that there is a certain stigma against those who are over the age of 17 and still read novels from the teen section at Indigo. I find that such novels find their designations not due to their writing or story (which can face mature themes and spark important conversations) but instead the degree of optimism found within. The novels of the intermediate period, between teen and adult, seem to hold an overwhelming sense of doubt that only intensifies in novels intended for adult readers. For example, the characters, story, and overall theme of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt seems to call upon the doubt in a person. The main protagonist, Theo Decker, seems to never catch a break. His life is just a series of losses (the loss of his mother, his home, his friends, his father) and reading it becomes a chore when the character only serves to suffer. Though there is a moral, it is not concrete or even particularly important to the story, Tartt appears to relish in the pain and hardship that Theo is put through. He goes from a messed up kid to an even more messed up adult, all the while losing loved ones like buttons off a cheap jacket. Though brilliantly written and captivating in its sadness, the novel carries with it a feeling of loss, and self-doubt. There is no happy ending, no light at the end of the excessively long tunnel. I understand the draw to more mature themes, more mature stories and the ideas encapsulated therein can be fascinating and act as an exceptionally interesting window into human nature but one cannot survive on strife and analysis alone.

For this reason, I have recently found myself drifting back to YA novels due to their exact “contraryness” to this drab overarching theme. The feeling of hope one can derive from simply reading a YA novel is not to be misplaced. Analytics and analysis are all well and good, but I dearly miss the days when a story could be just that, a story. Many of the novels and plays we have read this year have practical applications, ways in which the reader could find hidden or buried meaning in the words, and as interesting as I find that, I feel there is a magic lost. It seems to me that there can be no uncomplicated understanding, no easy way to read these novels through the eyes of a mature reader. This is the reason I have harkened back to the novels of youth, those with explicit morals and easy characters. They provide no challenge in understanding and usually end with what is considered a happy (or at the very least, happier) ending. Overall, I can appreciate the complex narratives and mature themes found in novel suited for older readers, but I simply can’t do without a significant dose of hope once and a while. Can you?

P.S: A novel series I would suggest if you’re into YA fantasy with more mature themes is the Abarat series by Clive Barker. The illustrations are divine and the story itself, engaging and fascinating.


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3 Responses to Young Adult Fiction

  1. james borwick

    I completely agree! Throughout Arts one all we’ve read have been texts and plays, now short stories, but none can really compare to just sitting down and reading a work of fiction geared specifically to our age. YA literature has, in my opinion, become slightly less appealing, either going too heavily to one side or the other, too childish or too mature for my tastes, finding a novel or series of novels that really spikes an interest is hard, but so satisfying.
    Recently having read a novel for a separate class, it was so refreshing to read once again that genre. Personally one of the few books that have fallen into the YA literature kind of sub-genre that you are addressing that I have read and fell in love with was Lord of the Flies. It is still my favorite novel, as much as it is fairly dense in terms of how much one could read into it, but the novel itself is just absolutely fantastic!
    As for your daily dose of hope, I found that always going back again to light hearted novels and such are always a good find, often short easy reads are just so satisfying. I entirely agree with your opinion on the devolution of the sub-genre though, it seems as if authors are completely overlooking the stage where people are still just j chillin, but not quite at the level of maturity that they can be at, purely out of their own desire. So having novels geared towards our age are rare to find excellent ones, but once found they are just hella.

  2. Jovolynn Gragasin

    I tend to lean towards the YA genre myself. I enjoy, as you say, the optimism that is found within. Mature novels seem to be very foreboding to me whereas, YA novels have their good and bad times. They have more comic relief than that of a mature novel. Right now, for example, I am reading the series Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I absolutely love it. The choice of words in conjunction with the whole atmosphere that the books provide is just wonderful. There are some words that are not at all geared towards youth but, I wouldn’t necessarily put the books into the “mature” section of a library. I also read this book called Ender Games back in high school. That book was also very interesting. I like the easier reads just because I can see beyond the text because of my age. If I were a younger reader and read a book that was meant for my age, I may or may not be able to see the hidden meanings within the texts. However, as I mature over time, I found it much easier to question the meanings behind some passages. I love the YA genre and I don’t think that’s going to change for me.

  3. seamus page

    I definitely agree with you on this topic. I believe nowadays, people are so determined to make their book worthy of analysis so they decide to make it drab and dreary. I’ve always preferred the young adult genre because of the sense of wonder that it brings. For example, in terms of the YA genre, I loved the Percy Jackson series (That does count as YA right?) which was always a delight to read whether for its sense of humour or the way it enthralls me with the aspect of mythology. However, to contrast this, I began to read Red Dragon by Thomas Harris over the summer. Red Dragon is the first book in the series about the cannibalistic doctor Hannibal Lecter. While I may not have finished it yet, there are undertones to the book (which are accentuated with the show that I watched in concert with my reading) that are quite grim and provide a sense of, well, the uncanny for lack of a better term. While I wouldn’t say that I don’t enjoy the “mature” section of book stores, I would definitely say I find more enjoyment in the optimism of young adult fiction.

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